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France and Britain vow to take additional measures after 27 migrants drowned in the English Channel

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France and Britain vow to take additional measures after 27 migrants drowned in the English Channel

Calais, France: Britain and France on Thursday expressed their desire to strengthen joint efforts to dismantle migrant smuggling networks, a day after at least 27 migrants drowned off the northern coast of France while trying to reach England, and France called its European partners to meet Sunday.
The death toll from this disaster is the heaviest since the canal became in 2018 a source of attraction for migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia trying on small, ill-equipped boats to cross the Channel from France to England.
French President Emmanuel Macron vowed that he would not allow the canal to turn into a “cemetery”, and agreed during a phone call on Wednesday evening with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “strengthen efforts” to combat migrant smuggling gangs, a Downing Street spokesman said.
In the wake of this tragedy, France called “the ministers responsible for migration in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, as well as the European Commission, to a meeting” Sunday in Calais.
“This meeting will allow identifying ways and means of strengthening judicial, humanitarian and police cooperation” in order to “better fight against smugglers’ networks,” the office of French Prime Minister Jean Castex said.
“France is a transit country, and we are fighting networks of smugglers who are taking advantage of desperation, but we have to improve European cooperation,” the French president said earlier.
Britain showed the same desire, stressing the need to “respond to the long-term effects and end criminal gangs that deal with people as commodities,” as Foreign Secretary Priti Patel told British MPs, calling for a “coordinated international effort”.
And Wednesday, 17 men, seven women and three minors died after their boat sank off Calais from where they set off in northern France, while trying to cross towards the British coast, according to the Public Prosecution Office in Lille, France. An investigation has been opened into the incident.
The disaster poses a new challenge to cooperation between France and Britain in the post-Brexit era.
Each of the two parties had initially blamed the incident on the other, which was an indication that the tragedy would not automatically activate cooperation.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced the arrest of five people suspected of smuggling migrants on charges of direct involvement in the disaster, one of whom was suspected of buying inflatable boats for the crossings.
Darmanan explained that only two survivors, an Iraqi and a Somali, were found, who are being treated for a severe hypothermia and will be interrogated later.
The mayor of Calais said one of the victims was a pregnant woman.

“Convince our partners”

And the British Prime Minister announced that Johnson and Macron agreed, during a phone call, on the “urgency to strengthen their joint efforts to prevent these crossings” and “the importance of keeping all options on the table” in order to strike the modus operandi of migrant smuggling gangs.
But he noted that Britain was facing “difficulties in persuading some of our partners, particularly the French, to handle matters in the appropriate manner.”
A brief statement from the Elysee Palace about the phone conversation between the French president and the British prime minister said that Macron told Johnson that France and the United Kingdom have a “shared responsibility”. He added that he “expects the British to fully cooperate and refrain from exploiting a tragic situation for political ends.”
British officials said that Johnson had renewed his offer to send police and border guards to France to conduct joint patrols off the coast of the Canal, knowing that Paris had previously rejected this offer.
In an indication of the existing tensions, major British newspapers published on their front pages a picture of a French police car whose elements seemed to do nothing while migrants set out on a boat from the coast of northern France.
According to data collected by the British “PA” news agency, this year, more than 25,700 people set out on trips to cross the canal on small boats, more than three times the number recorded in 2020.
Darmanan stressed that Paris is making every effort to strike the smuggling networks of migrants, and said that France had arrested 1,500 smugglers of migrants since the beginning of the year and said that they were operating in the manner of “organized gangs”.
On Thursday, Darmanan is scheduled to hold talks with his British counterpart Priti Patel.

“I do not have Any other choice”

French officials had previously reported the participation of three helicopters and three boats in the search operations in the area, and bodies and people lost consciousness were found in the waters after one of the fishermen informed the relevant authorities.
The boat had set off from the coast of Dunkirk, but encountered difficulties off Calais, to the west, according to a source close to the investigation.
Charles Defoe, a member of the French maritime rescue services, said he saw a “semi-empty rubber boat” that was barely floating on the surface of the water.
Pierre Roque, an activist in the non-governmental organization Auberge de Migrane, feared that the English Channel would become a source of deaths similar to the Mediterranean, in which migrant crossings expected a higher death toll.
“People are dying in the canal that turns into a cemetery,” said Rock. And since England is just across the road, people will keep crossing.”
In a statement to AFP in Calais, a 30-year-old Sudanese man who was rescued during a crossing attempt said he realized the enormity of the tragedy, but nothing would prevent him from trying to cross again.
“It’s terrible, but I will keep trying,” he said. I have no other choice. I realize it’s dangerous. I realize I am risking my life, but I have no other choice.”
(AFP)

in details

Calais, France: Britain and France on Thursday expressed their desire to strengthen joint efforts to dismantle migrant smuggling networks, a day after at least 27 migrants drowned off the northern coast of France while trying to reach England, and France called its European partners to meet Sunday.
The death toll from this disaster is the heaviest since the canal became in 2018 a source of attraction for migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia trying on small, ill-equipped boats to cross the Channel from France to England.
French President Emmanuel Macron vowed that he would not allow the canal to turn into a “cemetery”, and agreed during a phone call on Wednesday evening with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “strengthen efforts” to combat migrant smuggling gangs, a Downing Street spokesman said.
In the wake of this tragedy, France called “the ministers responsible for migration in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, as well as the European Commission, to a meeting” Sunday in Calais.
“This meeting will allow identifying ways and means of strengthening judicial, humanitarian and police cooperation” in order to “better fight against smugglers’ networks,” the office of French Prime Minister Jean Castex said.
“France is a transit country, and we are fighting networks of smugglers who are taking advantage of desperation, but we have to improve European cooperation,” the French president said earlier.
Britain showed the same desire, stressing the need to “respond to the long-term effects and end criminal gangs that deal with people as commodities,” as Foreign Secretary Priti Patel told British MPs, calling for a “coordinated international effort”.
And Wednesday, 17 men, seven women and three minors died after their boat sank off Calais from where they set off in northern France, while trying to cross towards the British coast, according to the Public Prosecution Office in Lille, France. An investigation has been opened into the incident.
The disaster poses a new challenge to cooperation between France and Britain in the post-Brexit era.
Each of the two parties had initially blamed the incident on the other, which was an indication that the tragedy would not automatically activate cooperation.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced the arrest of five people suspected of smuggling migrants on charges of direct involvement in the disaster, one of whom was suspected of buying inflatable boats for the crossings.
Darmanan explained that only two survivors, an Iraqi and a Somali, were found, who are being treated for a severe hypothermia and will be interrogated later.
The mayor of Calais said one of the victims was a pregnant woman.

“Convince our partners”

And the British Prime Minister announced that Johnson and Macron agreed, during a phone call, on the “urgency to strengthen their joint efforts to prevent these crossings” and “the importance of keeping all options on the table” in order to strike the modus operandi of migrant smuggling gangs.
But he noted that Britain was facing “difficulties in persuading some of our partners, particularly the French, to handle matters in the appropriate manner.”
A brief statement from the Elysee Palace about the phone conversation between the French president and the British prime minister said that Macron told Johnson that France and the United Kingdom have a “shared responsibility”. He added that he “expects the British to fully cooperate and refrain from exploiting a tragic situation for political ends.”
British officials said that Johnson had renewed his offer to send police and border guards to France to conduct joint patrols off the coast of the Canal, knowing that Paris had previously rejected this offer.
In an indication of the existing tensions, major British newspapers published on their front pages a picture of a French police car whose elements seemed to do nothing while migrants set out on a boat from the coast of northern France.
According to data collected by the British “PA” news agency, this year, more than 25,700 people set out on trips to cross the canal on small boats, more than three times the number recorded in 2020.
Darmanan stressed that Paris is making every effort to strike the smuggling networks of migrants, and said that France had arrested 1,500 smugglers of migrants since the beginning of the year and said that they were operating in the manner of “organized gangs”.
On Thursday, Darmanan is scheduled to hold talks with his British counterpart Priti Patel.

“I do not have Any other choice”

French officials had previously reported the participation of three helicopters and three boats in the search operations in the area, and bodies and people lost consciousness were found in the waters after one of the fishermen informed the relevant authorities.
The boat had set off from the coast of Dunkirk, but encountered difficulties off Calais, to the west, according to a source close to the investigation.
Charles Defoe, a member of the French maritime rescue services, said he saw a “semi-empty rubber boat” that was barely floating on the surface of the water.
Pierre Roque, an activist in the non-governmental organization Auberge de Migrane, feared that the English Channel would become a source of deaths similar to the Mediterranean, in which migrant crossings expected a higher death toll.
“People are dying in the canal that turns into a cemetery,” said Rock. And since England is just across the road, people will keep crossing.”
In a statement to AFP in Calais, a 30-year-old Sudanese man who was rescued during a crossing attempt said he realized the enormity of the tragedy, but nothing would prevent him from trying to cross again.
“It’s terrible, but I will keep trying,” he said. I have no other choice. I realize it’s dangerous. I realize I am risking my life, but I have no other choice.”
(AFP)

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